New & Used Hyundai Azera: In Depth
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Straddling the price-conscious end of the luxury class and the mainstream car market, the Hyundai Azera is a large four-door sedan that's sold in its home market of South Korea as the Grandeur. The Azera is related to the Hyundai Sonata in the way Toyota's Avalon is like its Camry: it's essentially a longer, more plush-and-stylish alternative that offers some, if not all, the premium features of Hyundai's Genesis and Equus luxury sedans.
MORE: Read our 2014 Hyundai Azera reviewThe Azera first was introduced in the U.S. in the 2006 model year, as the follow-up to Hyundai's first attempts at premium sedans, the XG300 and XG350 sedans. Aimed squarely at the mid-size sedans from Buick and at the Toyota Avalon, the Azera offered mild styling and a 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, while other world markets also got the Azera with smaller six-, four-cylinder and diesel engines. In the U.S. the sole transmission was a five-speed automatic with Shiftronic controls. Relatively well equipped, and relatively plain inside, the plush-riding Azera sported a base price tag of about $25,000 in its first model year.
While its relaxed handling and quiet styling remained largely unchanged, the first-generation Azera was upgraded over time. New steering-wheel controls arrived in 2007; a new navigation system with voice controls showed up in the 2008 model year, along with a new base engine, a 234-hp, 3.3-liter V-6. In 2009, Hyundai adapted the grille on the Azera, added blue backlighting for its gauges, and updated the audio and entertainment controls to include Bluetooth connectivity and iPod controls.
For the 2011 model year the Azera received a light refresh that included a new grille, headlights, LED taillights, and fog lamps, plus "high-gloss" window trim, a new trunk lid design and new alloy wheels. Powertrain changes were more substantial: the V-6 engines in the 2011 Hyundai Azera lineup became more powerful and consumed less gas. The 3.3-liter produced 260 horsepower and 233 pound-feet of torque (almost as many horsepower as the larger engine the year before) and had fuel economy figures that improved by two in both the EPA city and highway cycles, to 20 mpg city, 28 highway. The larger 3.8-liter V-6 was bumped up to 283 horsepower and 263 pound-feet, with ratings up 2 mpg in city driving and a mile per gallon on the highway, to 19/27 mpg.
Even with those extensive changes, for the 2012 model year, a new Azera made the trip across the Pacific. A standout new design brought the big four-door into an entirely new generation of design, with echoes of the smaller Sonata and Elantra in its lines. The new interior matches or equals the sheetmetal for its about-face on the Azera's formerly staid styling, and interior materials are even better than before.
Even better, the Azera's dynamics have been brushed up, lifting it out of the Avalon/Impala category into a competitive set with the better four-doors in the near-luxury class, like the LaCrosse and Taurus. The Azera's 3.3-liter 'Lambda' V-6 makes 293 horsepower, as well as 255 pound-feet of torque, and its six-speed automatic has a wide range of gear ratios to allow quick takeoffs, strong passing ability, and relaxed cruising.
Spacious and well-fitted, the Azera gives shoppers a reason to look at something a little more expensive than a Sonata, not just for cubic feet of passenger space or trunk space, but for features, too. A rearview camera system is standard on all models, as are a navigation system, pushbutton start; heated front and rear seats; a 450-watt audio system; and power front seats. Ambient lighting, Infinity sound, a panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats are on the options list.
The 2012-2013 Azera is one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Hyundai initially submitted figures of 20/29 mpg for the 2012 model year to the EPA, and 20/30 mpg for the 2013 model year. On a confirmation check of several vehicles, the EPA found the actual tested fuel economy to be 20/28 mpg for the 2012 Azera, and 20/29 mpg for the 2013 Azera. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.
The Azera carried over into the 2014 model year with no significant changes.